Libya’s supreme court blocks legal challenges to draft constitution

Libyan cadets march a graduation ceremony for a new batch of the unity government's Special Operations Force, at Abu Sitta Naval Base in the capital Tripoli on February 13, 2018, attended by the unity government's prime minister. (AFP)
Updated 15 February 2018

Libya’s supreme court blocks legal challenges to draft constitution

TRIPOLI: Libya’s supreme court blocked legal challenges from lower courts to a draft constitution on Wednesday, paving the way for a possible referendum on the document and a move toward elections, a lawyer who helped draft the text said.
Establishing a constitutional framework is widely seen as a key step in efforts to stabilize Libya after years of anarchy following a 2011 uprising.
The oil-rich country has splintered in recent years into local fiefdoms, with competing parliaments and governments set up in the east and west of the country backed by rival armed alliances. The United Nations is hoping that elections can be held by the end of the year.
Members of a Constitutional Drafting Assembly (CDA) had voted last summer in favor of a draft constitution, but an administrative court in the eastern city of Bayda had ruled that the vote was invalid.
The supreme court effectively quashed the Bayda decision by declaring that administrative courts do not have the jurisdiction to rule on matters relating to the CDA, said Omar Naas, a CDA member.
The draft constitution could still face hurdles, including challenges in the supreme court, turnout or approval requirements set by the eastern parliament or House of Representatives (HOR) for a constitutional referendum, and the difficulty of holding a nationwide poll in a country where there are no national security forces.
Some of Libya’s minorities have also said they were excluded from a lengthy and sometimes acrimonious drafting process.
But Naas said the text was for “all Libyans,” and greeted the supreme court’s decision as “historic.”
“The next steps are for the House of Representatives to discuss and write the referendum law that will enable Libyans to decide their fate,” he said.

Iran faces ‘strongest sanctions in history’

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
Updated 22 May 2018

Iran faces ‘strongest sanctions in history’

  • US Secretary of State laid out Trump administration’s strategy for constraining Iran’s nuclear program
  • US threatens "strongest sanctions in history" if Iranian government does not change course

WASHINGTON: The US told Iran on Monday to drop its nuclear ambitions and pull out of the Syrian civil war in a list of demands that marked a new hard-line against Tehran and prompted an Iranian official to warn that Washington seeks regime change.

Weeks after US President Donald Trump pulled out of an international nuclear deal with Iran, his administration threatened to impose “the strongest sanctions in history,” setting Washington and Tehran on a deeper course of confrontation.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo demanded sweeping changes that would force Iran effectively to reverse years of its foreign policies.

“The sting of sanctions will only grow more painful if the regime does not change course from the unacceptable and unproductive path it has chosen for itself and the people of Iran,” Pompeo said in his first major speech since becoming secretary of state.

“These will be the strongest sanctions in history by the time we are done,” he added.

Pompeo took aim at Iran’s policy of expanding its influence in the Middle East through support for proxy armed groups in countries such as Syria, Lebanon and Yemen.

He warned that the US would “crush” Iranian operatives and allies abroad and told Tehran to pull out forces under its command from the Syrian civil war where they back President Bashar Assad.

Iran is unlikely to accede to the US demands. Tension between the two countries has grown notably since Trump this month withdrew from the 2015 nuclear agreement aimed at preventing Tehran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.

Pompeo warned that if Iran fully resumed its nuclear program Washington would be ready to respond and said the administration would hold companies doing prohibited business in Iran to account.

“Our demands on Iran are not unreasonable: Give up your program,” Pompeo said, “Should they choose to go back, should they begin to enrich, we are fully prepared to respond to that as well,” he said, declining to elaborate.

Pompeo said if Iran made major changes, the US was prepared to ease sanctions, re-establish full diplomatic and commercial relations and support the country’s re-integration into the international economic system.

The speech did not explicitly call for regime change but Pompeo repeatedly urged the Iranian people not to put up with their leaders, specifically naming President Hassan Rouhani and Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.

“At the end of the day the Iranian people will get to make a choice about their leadership. If they make the decision quickly, that would be wonderful, if they choose not to do so we will stay hard at this until we achieve the outcomes I set forward,” said Pompeo.